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NB court fight against Ottawa’s carbon tax will get taxpayer support

May 16, 2019
NB court fight against Ottawa’s carbon tax will get taxpayer support

This column was published in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on May 16, 2019.

New Brunswick has a strong perspective to deliver in a court case against Ottawa’s unfair carbon tax. The moment New Brunswick launches its challenge, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation will join the fight by seeking official intervener status to stand up for taxpayers. It’s a fight worth fighting and we can win it.

Premier Blaine Higgs campaigned against the carbon tax and has stuck to it. In addition to intervening in the court cases launched by Saskatchewan and Ontario, he said New Brunswick will launch its own court challenge against Ottawa’s carbon tax.

Earlier this month, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled 3-2 in favour of Ottawa’s carbon tax was constitutional – a decision that disappointed Higgs and taxpayers across Canada.

But Saskatchewan decision was a narrow 3-2 split and the dissenting judges delivered a searing criticism on the federal position, calling Ottawa’s carbon tax “constitutionally repugnant.” The legal arguments against the carbon tax remain solid and New Brunswick brings a unique perspective.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe already announced that his government will be taking the fight to the Supreme Court of Canada. Higgs said “we will be a part of that process.”

Taxpayers are awaiting the ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal, where the Ontario government argued its case against Ottawa’s carbon tax and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation again intervened along with New Brunswick government.

The Manitoba government is planning to file its own court action against Ottawa’s carbon tax. That province’s legal analysis highlighted University of Manitoba law professor Dr. Brian Schwartz’s opinion that there is opportunity for a province to challenge the federal carbon tax by demonstrating that its own environmental policies are effective.

Like New Brunswick, Manitoba submitted a plan to the federal government which Ottawa rejected (completely arbitrarily when compared to some other approved provincial carbon tax plans).

New Brunswick’s opposition to Ottawa’s carbon tax is critically important. Fighting this unfair, unevenly applied tax is about making life more affordable for New Brunswickers and defeating the tax across Canada is the only lasting way to get rid of it.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is the only non-partisan organization consistently taking a stand in court to oppose this tax.

Ottawa’s carbon tax won’t make a difference in global climate change, but the tax isn’t really about reducing emissions. This is where New Brunswick’s perspective is so valuable.

New Brunswick has already reduced its emissions by 28 per cent from 2005 levels and is on track to lower its emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 (the Paris climate target Ottawa wants to hit).

“A carbon tax is not needed in New Brunswick to continue lowering our emissions,” said New Brunswick Environment Minister Jeff Carr. “We will continue to meet … and surpass our targets without a punishing carbon tax.” 

It’s not about emissions. It’s about forcing yet another new tax. And New Brunswickers can’t afford it.

Higgs said he is seeking advice from the attorney general on the best next steps for challenging Ottawa’s carbon tax.

The moment the New Brunswick government proceeds with fighting Ottawa’s carbon tax in court, the 198,000 supporters behind the Canadian Taxpayers Federation will jump into that fight and our lawyers will present compelling arguments on behalf of taxpayers.

In addition to the strong legal arguments against Ottawa’s carbon tax, there is no credible argument that New Brunswick requires a carbon tax to reduce its emissions. It already has.

Good on the New Brunswick government for keeping up this fight for taxpayers.

Paige MacPherson is Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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